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AP examines how Supreme Court’s abortion decision is already affecting women’s health

This 2022 photo provided by Julie Ann Nitsch is hospitalized in Texas before surgery to remove her fallopian tubes, in a 2022 photo provided by Nitsch. Nitsch, A sexual assault survivor, she says she chose sterilization at age 36 rather than risk getting pregnant by another rapist with restrictive abortion laws in effect.. (Julie Ann Nitsch via AP)

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Soon after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, it became apparent the ruling would have a profound effect on women’s health care — in ways intended and not.

Chicago-based AP medical writer Lindsey Tanner wanted to know exactly how that was playing out. She used aggressive reporting and deep sourcing to do it, by looking for people sharing their stories on social media and working contacts from previous stories.

Tanner looked for people sharing their stories on social media and worked sources from previous stories.

She reached out to doctors and found a sexual assault survivor who was sterilized because of the ruling. She found examples of fearful doctors declining to immediately treat women having medical emergencies. She spoke to an obstetrician who delayed inducing a miscarriage until a woman seemed “sick enough.”

“For physicians and patients alike, this is a frightening and fraught time, with new, unprecedented concerns about data privacy, access to contraception, and even when to begin lifesaving care,” Tanner quoted Dr. Jack Resneck, the president of the American Medical Association.

Even in medical emergencies, she reported, doctors are sometimes declining immediate treatment. An Ohio abortion clinic received calls from two women with ectopic pregnancies — when an embryo grows outside the uterus and can’t be saved — who said their doctors wouldn’t treat them. Ectopic pregnancies often become life-threatening emergencies and abortion clinics aren’t set up to treat them.

Fellow medical writer Carla Johnson found a lupus patient who said she was cut off from a drug because it also could be used to induce abortion,and Johnson then connected Tanner with the woman.

Tanner’s July 16 story,“Abortion laws spark profound changes in other medical care,” topped AP stories for engagement that day,with almost 300,000 pageviews on AP News. Nine U.S. newspapers used it on their front page.

For putting AP ahead with a wide-ranging story on the immediate,real-world impact on post-Roe women’s health care, Tanner earns Best of the Week — Second Winner.

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